1722 - 1965

Signs of Time

Regional Ethnographic Museum-Plovdiv

The Historical Development of Time Measuring and Lighting Equipment
Regional Ethnographic Museum - Plovdiv / 20.01.2015

This exhibit is a collection of old lamps and clocks, owned by Regional Ethnographic Museum – Plovdiv. Here you can trace the historical development of time measuring and lighting equipment.

Silver Pocket Watch – “Ralpf Gout”
Ottoman Army Pocket Watch “Edward Prior”

The history of time measuring devices starts with the first clocks in the Ancient world with accuracy to one minute and continues with today’s clocks measuring time to one-millionth of the second. The development and improvement of clockworks is among the fascinating pages about the struggle of human genius to understand and subdue natural forces.

Ottoman Army Pocket Watch “George Prior”
Porcelain Swiss Wall Clock

Water clocks were called by the Greeks “clepsydre”, which means literally “stealer of water”. This type of clock measures time by the water that flows out of it and has been collected in the lower vessel with time indications. Fire clocks were usually a meter-long candle with a scale applied at the length. They have been used for a long time not only because they are relatively accurate, but also because of their shining function.

Swiss Pocket Watch “Orta”
English Ruby Pocket Watch
Two-Lidded Pocket Watch
Wooden Swiss Wall Clock
Crystal Swiss Pocket Watch

Sun dials are the first simple instruments for time measurement. They have an object with sharp and long shadow – gnomon and a dial with divisions corresponding to the hours. Sand clocks are made of two funnel glass vessels connected with a specific width of the opening and a precise amount of sand that pours into one or other part of the dial.

American Shelf Clock
French Mantel Clock

The idea for time and different methods for thinking, structuring and measuring it has a leading part in the conception of the exhibit. Since ancient times people not only lived in time, they tried to rationalize its nature, and every epoch discovered its specific idea of time’s nature.

Pocket Watch Lid
English Shelf Clock

The exhibition features samples of timepieces made by notorious English brands as “Ralph Gout”, “George Prior”, “Edward Prior”, etc. The oldest object is a pocket watch “Ralph Gout” from 1722. It was made of silver with silver dial and three protective lids corresponding to the requirements for watch protection at the time. It is richly decorated with silver engravings, tortoise shell and rubies.

Wall Clock “Junghans”
German Mantle Clock
Shelf Clock “Junghans”

While the clock measures time both day and night, the light dispels the darkness of the night and drives away instinctive fears. The flame is magical. To conquer it people invented different light sources and methods of using light.

Silver Bough Candelabra Clock
Silver Candlesticks
Woman Figured French Candelabras

The darkness was first fought by pinewood, candles and clay lamps burning vegetable oil or animal fat. Later lamps were improved in material and form. Some of them were so sophisticated that they shaded the very source of light for the sake of being perfect in shape and elaborate in decoration.

Porcelain Oil-lamp Clock “Hinks’s”
Ceramic Oil-lamp Clock „Matador Brenner”

According to the production technology, the lamps in Regional Ethnographic Museum – Plovdiv are divided into several types: tin lamps, porcelain lamps, white and colour marble lamps, ceramic lamps and Devarda's Alloy lamps. Tin lamps are the prevailing part of this collection. They are made of tin and zinc and are covered with precious metal. Devarda's Alloy lamps are made of zinc coated in metal.

Porcelain Oil-lamp Clock “Gerbrüder Brüner – Wien”
Glass Spirit Lamp
Brass Candlestick
Oil-lamp Clock “Gerbrüder Brüner – Wien”
Porcelain Oil-lamp Clock “Ditmar-Wien”
Ground Glass Chandelier
Pink Glass Chandelier
Bulgarian Coat of Arms Oil-lamp Clock
Marble Oil-lamp Clock “Matador Brenner ”
Lily of the Valley Marble Oil-lamp Clock
Round Based Oil-lamp Clock

In this exhibition you can see a gas lamp that belonged to the first major of the city of Plovdiv – Atanas Samokovliev. It is tin lamp produced by “Ditmar Brünner” in Germany. It has a bronze stem and round base with four legs richly adorned with cast metal geometric figures and cherubs. The metal wick part is laced with tracery ornaments and a round adjusting mechanism.

Oil-lamp Clock “Ditmar Brünner A.G.”
Oil-lamp Clock from Devarda's Alloy
Tripod Oil-lamp Clock
Brazed German Oil-lamp Clock
Credits: Story

Exhibition curator — Biliana Popova
Curator — Lora Hristozova
Virtual exhibition — Stefana Mincheva
Photographer — Yanko Kavrakov

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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